Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

This just struck me as interesting as an idea for future stories or, rather, an element of future stories:  what attractions might future amusement parks offer that differ from today’s?  Well as it happens, short film maker Till Nowak created such an idea, based on a fictional scientific experiment concerning the effects of thrill rides on human learning, and part of which apparently has been taken by some people to be true.  Hence it migrated to SNOPES.COM with a need for debunking in “Does This Video Show an Extreme Theme Park Thrill Ride?”

To quote the SNOPES article, of Nowak’s film:  [t]he film is narrated by “Dr. Nick Laslowicz” (as portrayed by Leslie Barany), who has picked up on a project to “study the effects of kindergarten rides on the learning curve of 4-year-old children” that has been extended to “building larger, stronger devices to examine the effects also on adults.”

Dr. Laslowicz leads the viewing audience through a succession of increasingly bizarre amusement rides conceived and created to further his study — including one lasting a whopping 14 hours on which, the researcher laments, “some people fell asleep and missed their stops and had another 14 hours, and you can imagine the problems that entailed.”

And the fun thing is, not only is the video in question shown, but the entire 6 minute and 35 second film can be seen for as well by pressing here, then scrolling down to the end of the SNOPES piece and THE CENTRIFUGE BRAIN PROJECT:  A SHORT FILM.  The original video comes about a minute before the end of the film.

Now the next question to ask: in that most of these still rely on gravity for their effects, what modifications can we make for amusement park rides for use in space?


Hark we back from Saint Patrick’s Day to Christmas last year and the publication of “Holly Jolly” in PLANET SCUMM (see December 27, 14, et al.), the saga of an elf invasion of Earth gone bad.  This was in issue 6, the “O Scumm All Ye Faithful” edition dated for December 2018.  But all is not over, it seems, for issue 6.  Word has come from editor Tyler Berd that an audio version has just been edited and, moreover, a new print edition in perfect-bound paperback form with “a less Christmasy cover” is in the worls, both planned to be released this summer.  More to be announced here as it becomes known.

After a hectic afternoon including finalizing the PDF for A JAMES DORR SAMPLER (see February 21, below), yesterday evening saw me arriving a half hour late for the “Players Pub Second Thursday Spoken Word Series” (see December 15, et al.), co-sponsored by the Bloomington Writers Guild but on the third, not the second Thursday and not at Players Pub this month but, temporarily, ThBurroughse Blockhouse, another downtown Bloomington bar.  So not to worry, due to a problem involving the band “The Paperback Riot” the program started late as well with featured readers Ian Uriel Girdley and Tony Brewer reading poetry and Joan Hawkins with an elaborate reading of an imagined dialogue between William S. Burroughs and his wife, “William and Joan in the Bardo.”  This was followed immediately by four open mike readings, with the musical part just after, in which I was last with a reprise of my January “First Sundays Prose” (cf. January 6) reading of my building walls satire-with-zombies “Steel Slats.”

Next month the series will move again, this time to a new night, Wednesday, and a newer location at the university area pub Bear’s Place.  More as it develops.

Let us recall January 16, not so long ago.  This had been the call:  Dramatic, large-scale stories of the distant future, focused on optimism and inclusion and blowing things up.  Weird mashups.  Actual arias.  Fat ladies singing on funeral pyres. . . .  The market in question, SPACE OPERA LIBRETTI, a mostly new-story clearly somewhat light-hearted anthology but accepting perhaps a few reprints, including my own, “The Needle-Heat Gun,” originally published in NIGHT LIGHTS (Geminid Press, 2016).  And now a complete 8cd923202896b58b34cd050eb84ab30d_originallist of authors has been released, or, according to co-editor Brian McNett:  Brian here.  Jennifer has asked me to do this announcement.  She’s swamped with life, and adulting, and the cat’s dental care.  We’ve been waiting on the final dotting of “I”s and crossing of “T”s and the signings on the lines which are dotted.

Now that all that important documentation is out of the way, I get to announce the list of contributors to “Space Opera Libretti.”

<insert the roaring of a stadium full of fanatical supporters here>

Our contributors are, in no specific order:

Ingrid Garcia
K.G. Anderson
Jean Graham
Julia Huni
Tom Barlow
Harry Turtledove
EDE Bell
James Dorr
Larry Hodges
Cait Gordon
Dave D’Alessio
Minerva Cerridwen
Bruce Taylor
Alex Kropf
Dawn Vogel
Lizz Donnelly
Dean Brink
Spruce Wells
Jennifer Lee Rossman
Brian McNett

And with a bit of a compliment after:  Jennifer and I are editing furiously, but to be honest, our contributors have shown themselves to be real professionals, even the beginners.  Our edits will only be to the end of making their perfect darlings even better.

More news when it comes.

And now how about a bit of print?  Let us look back to September 5 last year, announcing the sale of a poem, “Escalations,” to ILLUMEN MAGAZINE.  This one was advertised to come out in their Winter issue and . . . here it is, arriving in yesterday evening’s mail!  The poem itself is near the front, on page 15, bracketed by poems by Frank Coffman and Bruce Boston, and tells the tale of what transpired after the historic meeting of Bambi and Godzilla (as captured on film by Marv Newland, for which one may press here), setting off a train of events with worldwide implications concerning the sport of basketball.

How so, you ask?  Well, it’s all in ILLUMEN, published by Alban Lake, which a spot check tells me isn’t up on Amazon yet, but which also can be bought by pressing here.

Hopefully not to the former!  But the question does come up, what about Valentine’s Day for those people you don’t like so much?  And with less than a month left, here is one answer courtesy of Angel Orona on Facebook’s SHIT JUST GOT WEIRD, “Delivered in Hate: In the Victorian Era, People Sent These Grotesque ‘Vinegar Valentines’ to Their Enemies” from VINTAGE.ES (a.k.a. VINTAGE EVERYDAY).  Or, possibly better, maybe you shouldn’t be hanging around so much with people like that in the first place.

Nevertheless we are into horror and, who knows, one could be on the receiving end too.  So as the February feast day approaches, if only to be forewarned press here.

Then back to business, it was an odd sort of contract, an interactive one in a way, but contracts are contracts and this was received from ITTY BITTY WRITING SPACE Editor Jason Brick earlier this afternoon (cf. just below, January 19).  I hope you’re still jazzed about this anthology.  The team and I sure are.  Today, though, we’re mostly about business.  More fun stuff comes later, but it’s always best to get the money and contract stuff done early so everybody’s on the same page and nobody’s feelings get hurt.  It was followed by a preview of what would be covered, and then:  If this still sounds like your idea of a good time, click the button below.  It will take you to a Google form where you sign off on this plain-English agreement.  From there, you’re in and we’re all set to move forward.

And there, step by step, one could check the “yes” boxes as each point came up, finally typing one’s name and the date — all easy and neat and uncomplicated, an interesting idea!  Be that as it may, I did as required, and back it went.

The call was out:  Dramatic, large-scale stories of the distant future, focused on optimism and inclusion and blowing things up.  Weird mashups.  Actual arias.  Fat ladies singing on funeral pyres.  Watery tarts distributing swords optional.  Play fast and loose.  No holds barred as long as it’s a tasteful treatment written with respect.  Lengths were to be 2500 to 7000 words with [o]riginal stories preferred but we will accept a few outstanding reprints.

So you’ve heard the tale.  I responded to test that final provision, but also at the extreme of the guidelines.  Attached is a 7000-word submission for SPACE OPERA LIBRETTI, “The Needle-Heat Gun,” that even ends with singing.  It is a reprint (reprint rights in my possession) that was originally published in NIGHT LIGHTS (Geminid Press, 2016).  And yesterday, exactly two months and one day later, came the response from Editor Jennifer Lee Rossman:  We love The Needle-Heat Gun and would like to publish it in our anthology!

With this — “the writing life,” you know — came a contract and information concerning editing, etc., with me returning the signed contract yesterday afternoon.  As a reprint the editing won’t be much, mainly just a copy edit to make sure everything’s in the right format.  “The Needle-Heat Gun,” incidentally, has been met before on these pages, notably for its original sale (see February 22 2016; November 7, 6 2014) but also for an as far as I can tell never published electronic-only reprint by DIGITAL SCIENCE FICTION (August 20, July 29 2017), that first NIGHT LIGHTS publication being paid at a professional rate to boot.  It does get around!  And now for its third (well . . . actually second) appearance, SPACE OPERA LIBRETTI is aiming for a release in August.

More as it becomes known.

As we continue to settle into 2019, today brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s opening event, “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. December 2, November 4, et al.), this time in the back room of the downtown Soma Coffeehouse.  Featured readers were Bloomington-based writer and occasional dancer and actor Zilia Balkansky-Sellés with “mostly memoirs,” Wendy Teller with the opening chapter of her novel-in-progress THE SORROWS OF SEX, and local poet Eric Rensberger with a brief historical chat about the afternoon’s venue followed by a series of fifteen loosely connected “prose poem paragraphs.”  Holding a larger than average audience, these were followed by seven walk-ons, of which I was third with a just-written (on New Year’s Day to be exact) science-fiction satire of zombies and borders titled “Steel Slats.”

It was a dreary, rainy Friday to near the end of the new year’s first week, so what better night to go to the movies?  The film in question, HEVI REISSU at the IU Cinema or, by its English title if one hopes to look it up on Amazon, HEAVY TRIP.  In this offbeat comedy from Finland, Turo is stuck in a small village where the best thing in his life is being the lead vocalist for the amateur metal band Impaled Rektum.  The only problem?  He and his bandmates have practiced for 12 years without playing a single gig.  The guys get a surprise visitor from Norway — the promoter for a huge heavy-metal music festival — and they decide it’s now or never.  They steal a van, a corpse, and even a new drummer in order to make their dreams a reality.  In English, Finnish, and Norwegian with English subtitles.  Or, to give it a theme, think Joseph Campbell’s “follow your bliss” or Søren Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” except, this being a “metal” movie, perhaps here couched in more vulgar terms.  That is, in the words of an older patient at the home where Turo works, “it’s better to s**t yourself than always have constipation.”

So maybe that includes throwing up on the audience due to nerves at one’s first public performance — but remember it’s metal and this is extreme.  Or having let it slip that you’ve applied for that Norwegian gig, and receiving unexpected support, having it all crash down around you when the call from the festival comes, and they’ve turned you down.

But then Turo’s would-be girlfriend shames him into not giving up and the real fun begins.  The stealing a van, et al., of the blurb.  Of “terrorists” at the Finnish-Norwegian border.  Or, maybe my favorite, an entrance to the festival grounds by sea aboard a replica Viking longship — a glimpse of which may be seen in the trailer by pressing here.

If you go to Amazon and skim the reviews, about the only complaint repeated over and over is that you have to be a real metalhead to get all the jokes.*  (And perhaps a Scandinavian one at that!)  But, although I am okay with metal music, I’d say I was neither and yet still thoroughly enjoyed the film.


*Or to the point, from Amazon reviewer Discordia, . . . I’m sure anyone could technically enjoy this movie, but to understand a lot of the humor, I think you have to be a metalhead of some sorts.  The movie pokes fun at many of the tropes and stigma concerning metal (obscene band name, pictures in the forest in full makeup, referencing not just current metal bands (Children of Bodom) but a lot of metal roots (Dio, King Diamond), what people who don’t like metal think the vocals sound like, etc.  The shirt the black guy was wearing in the final act was HILARIOUS and one of my favorite scenes was with the whole border patrol scenario.  4/5 from me! 

Yesterday afternoon HUMANAGERIE (cf. October 28, 3, et al.) arrived in the Computer Cave Mailbox, all the way from the United Kingdom, with “Crow and Rat” nestled toward the bottom of the first page of contents.  It’s a very handsome book, moreso than society throwaways like the aforementioned duo are used to, so be sure that they’re on their best behavior.  Moreover, should it be of interest, the world they inhabit is that of my novel-in-stories TOMBS: A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH.  To see more for oneself the anthology can be ordered in both hardbound and softcover editions directly from the publisher, Eibonvale Press, by pressing here.

Then those gimlet-eyed enough may have noticed on Friday’s post, for December 14, a misspelling of my name on the cover of PLANET SCUMM pictured.  A missing first letter, “D,” to be exact.  I’m assured however that the picture is of a preliminary test cover from the printer, that had to be used for advertising on their website, and that the actual finished issues sent to subscribers, etc., have been corrected.

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